Black Eyed Beans

The black eyed beans (Vigna unguiculata subsp. unguiculata), also known as the black eyed pea, lobia, or chawalie in various Indian languages, is a cowpea subspecies that’s cultivated across the globe for its average-sized, edible seed. The black eyed bean can easily mutate as well, which explains its diversity and varieties. The most common and mainstream one is known as the California Blackeye, which has a prominent black spot (the “eye”) and a pale coloration.

Classifications and Relatives
It was in the past classified in the genus Phaseolus, though current botanical standards have reclassified it under a different genus. The wild relative of the black eyed beans is the Vigna unguiculata subsp. dekindtiana, while the asparagus bean relative of the plant is known as Vigna unguiculata subsp. sesquipedalis. Other beans that look like the black eyed bean include the goat’s eye bean (frijol ojo de cabra) of North Mexico, which is sometimes also called the black eyed peas and vice-versa due to their similarities with each other.

Early History and Culture
The black eyed beans were first domesticated in West Africa. They were also widely grown in many Asian countries. As for its spread in the western world, they were delivered to the Southern United States, specifically in Virginia, as early as the 17th century. The majority of cultivation for this widely distributed pulse made a bigger impact in the Carolinas and Florida back in the 18th century, reaching Virginia after the American Revolution. It’s quite the popular crop in Texas as well.

Soul food and a variety of Southern U.S. dishes use the black eyed beans as a primary ingredient, such that it’s considered a part of southern culture. The cultivation of these pulses was even encouraged by George Washington Carver because it naturally adds nitrogen to the ground, plus it has immense nutritional values to boot. These legumes are an excellent source of Vitamin A (1,305 IU), folate (209 milligrams in a one cup serving), and calcium (211 milligrams in a one cup serving).

As for its influence in India, the black eyed bean contributes tremendously in Indian cuisine, specifically when it came to vegetarian cuisine. From curry soup to daal as well as the many ways to cook the beans with a variety of herbs and spices, it’s quite plain to see that the black eyed bean (also known as the chawalie or lobia in various places in India and Pakistan) has become as much a part of Indian history as that of the histories of the Southern US, Virginia, and Africa.

Black eyed beans and New Year’s Celebrations
It is believed that prosperity can be attained by eating black eyed bean every New Year’s Day. This tradition can be traced back at Rosh Hashana celebrations, which is the Jewish New Year. It’s specifically recorded in the Babylonian Talmud (compiled in 500 CE), Horayot 12A. It’s also believed that this tradition may have come to pass because of an early mistranslation of “rubiya”, an Aramaic word.

A parallel text in Kritot 5B alleges that people should consume the black eyed beans as good luck symbols. The Shulhan Aruh Orah Hayim 583:1, 16th century, which is Jewish practice and law’s standard code, shows that the eating of symbols is an accepted custom that’s followed by Israeli Jews and the Sephardi up to the present time. In the U.S., the first Sephardi Jews came to Georgia in the 1730s, and they stayed there ever since. Around the time that the American Civil War happened, many non-Jews have adopted this custom.

Black Eyed Bean Cuisine
Here are the different culinary uses of black eyed bean all around the world.

• Daal: As one of many Indian pulses, it’s only natural for the black bean to be cooked as daal in the northern parts of India.

• Indian-Spiced Black Eyed Beans: It’s an Indian bean dish that includes a variety of traditional Indian ingredients such as turmeric powder and extenders such as mustard and cumin seeds. It’s a spicy delight with a nice Indian touch.

• Black Eyes Beans with Tomato and Curry Leaves: Although the main ingredients of this Indian dish is plainly stated by its name, it also uses a lot more other components such as cooked mustard seeds, olive oil, sea salt, green Tabasco sauce, and so forth.

• Black Eyed Beans in Indian Curried Soup: This recipe requires presoaked beans, a pinch of coriander powder (or chaat masala), and the usual collection of ingredients needed to make a typical curry dish (turmeric powder, mustard seeds, green chili peppers cut into slits, finely chopped tomatoes, and so forth).

• Hoppin’ John: It is a traditional Southern United States dish made of pork, rice, and black eyed beans.

• Texas Caviar: This is another American South classic, and it’s made of chopped garlic and black eyed beans marinated in Italian salad dressing. It’s typically served cold.

• Portuguese Dish Garnishes: In Portugal, these legumes are usually served in salads, with tuna, and with potatoes and boiled cod.

• Chè Đậu Trắng: This is a Vietnamese sweet dessert that’s basically composed of black eyed beans with coconut milk and sticky rice.

• Grecian Delights: In Cyprus and Greece, black eyed beans are consumed with lemon, salt, oil, and vegetables by the Greeks.

• Buñuelo: This Northern Colombian fritter requires the presence of black eyed beans as a key ingredient. It makes a scrumptious breakfast meal, and it involves the removal of the legumes’ skins and the grounding of the beans themselves. The beans are usually immersed in water in order to soften them and loosen their skins.

• Akkra: This traditional dish is popular in the Caribbean and West Africa, and it’s composed of mashed black eyed beans with peppers, onions, and salt. This mixture is then fried before serving.

• Acarajé: This Nigerian street food is typically sold in (naturally) Nigeria, Brazil’s Northeastern State of Bahia, and Salvador City. It’s made by peeling and mashing black eyed bean, then balling up the resulting paste before deep frying them in dendê. This dish is usually served stuffed with homemade hot sauce, fried sun-dried shrimp, diced red and green tomatoes, caruru, and vatapá.

Black Eyed Bean Traits and Benefits
In terms of pest and disease, this crop is mostly resistant to them. However, if your crops aren’t rotated, root-knot nematodes can prove to be a major annoyance. Three weeks after it has germinated, this nitrogen-fixing legume can exclude nitrogen on the ground. As for its blossoms, it generates a whole lot of nectar. What’s more, large areas can be a major honey source too. Because black eyed bean blooms attract a multitude of pollinators, you must be careful when applying insecticides in order to prevent label violations.

Sowing Tips and Tricks
This is a heat-loving plant; as such, it should be sown during summer or other seasons wherein all danger of frost has finally passed. Warm soil is the only way to go for this type of bean. Farmers of this crop should remember that sowing the black eyed bean too early will lead to them rotting before they could germinate. The good news is that even if you’re going through drought, this legume will still survive thanks to its high tolerance for the dry season. However, it’s highly recommended that you don’t water it excessively.

Nutrition Facts
Servings Size 100gm
Calories from Fat 1%
Calories 116
Saturated Fat 1%
Potassium 8%
Total Carbohydrate 7%
Dietary Fiber 26%
Vitamin C 1%
Calcium 2%
Iron 14%
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because it has not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.


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